Rena Effendi: Spirit Lake (2013)

Located in an isolated and economically languishing area of North Dakota, Spirit Lake is a Sioux Indian reservation home to some 6,200 inhabitants. Tribe members struggle with crippling social problems, among which are poverty and high unemployment rate, staggering at 39%, endemic alcoholism and poor nutrition. Medical conditions such as cirrhosis and diabetes are very common on Spirit Lake and mental health has deteriorated. Inordinate alcohol consumption, depression and neglect lead to abuse, death from overdose or accidents, and finally suicide with rates among the highest in America. But the most chilling statistic on Spirit Lake is this: for every 163 residents on the reservation, there is at least one registered sex offender and native children account for 30% of all child abuse cases in North Dakota. According to the tribe members, a vast majority of the child abuse crimes on the reservation, to this day, continue to be neglected by the law enforcement and remain unpunished. These facts are gruesome in Spirit Lake and while people struggle to protect their children from the horrors of abuse, the family union is strong. People persevere and even as they barely make their ends meet, they take care of their own children and those of their relatives. While in Spirit Lake I met Jada Longie, a 39-year-old single mother of two. Subsequently, I photographed her family of about 80 people - her parents, her many siblings and their children and children’s children. Headed by “mom and pop” Mary and Frank Lovejoy, the family elders, the portrait of this expanded Spirit Lake clan is a reflection of both the community’s soulful wounds and its healing with familial bonds. 

*you can see the complete series here, but with watermarks.

hipsterhomemades asked:
Are there any native Americans which still follow old traditions, even if they still live modern lives?

Yes, of course. Many Natives still follow their tribal traditions, even though we no longer wear buckskin and live in teepees or long houses. More so Natives that live on reservations though.

Anonymous asked:
a couple times a year i see Native American's performing what I'm assuming are traditional songs around my town. They usually follow this up by selling items such as bracelets and dream catchers. I wanted to ask if it was okay for me---a non native american--to purchase one of the bracelets? This is in England btw and I'm black.

Yes it’s okay. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t be selling them to the public. 


Meryl McMasterIn-Between Worlds

In-Between Worlds explores the mixing and transforming of bi-cultural identities - Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian (Scottish and Cree). 

McMaster views her bicultural Aboriginal-European heritage as a synergistic strength rather than a struggle between opposing forces. Through working on this series, McMaster transformed the way she views the past, creating a new narrative that comments on her personal heritage and its relation to a larger, shared cultural history that is inextricable from the land. Colourful self-portraits insert the artist’s body into visual spaces that reflect both the inspiration that she felt during her time alone in nature and the sense of being between two worlds. The images depict McMaster posed with evocative sculptures and sculptural garments, which she constructed to serve as talismans that incorporate her bicultural heritage through collage.

This series addresses the idea of liminality, of being betwixt and between cultural identities and histories. In-Between Worlds is a sequence of moments that appear out of the ordinary and can be interpreted as being in a state of suspended belief. 


bo christian larsson : The Ghost of Sitting Bull


Aaron Huey: Mitakuye Oyasin: All My Relations (Pine Ridge Reserve)

Aaron Huey has photographed the Oglala Lakota for seven years. The community of Sioux is confined to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, about 75 miles southeast of the Black Hills. 

*I can’t find one description of this project that isn’t problematic, so I leave it to others to research on their own. Despite the accolades of TED talks, National Geographic and now a movie shot with OBEY, there are still complex issues over an outsider, entrenched in colonial implications, taking pictures of this community and presenting it to the outside world. Because of some issues over photos of sacred ceremonies that the photographer took, I have chosen to exclude those images from this post. THAT SAID the 7 year investment the photographer has made to establish real relationships with the community and explore a highly complex social/political/colonial issue can be respected.

The best thing to come out of this project is arguably the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project. This collection tells the story of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, told by the people of Pine Ridge in their own unedited words.


Glooscap would walk over the water to spear eels. Two pretty girls said, “Now let us watch Glooscap going out to spear eels.” Glooscap heard them (he can hear whatever you say, however far away). The girls were looking out of a stone window. He said, “You can stay there a while, watching me.” So there they still are, bear-headed, with two strings of beads on, looking out of the window, waist high.


Sundance by Darren Julian


Powhatan men with tattoos and body paint.